Despite a poor first run with the UFC, a rejuvenated Kaufman believes she’ll be a contender for the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Title by mid-2019.
“At this stage of my career, of course the UFC has the top talent,” Kaufman said backstage at UFC 219. “They have so many females to challenge yourself with every day that you get the opportunity to get in there. But I’m already at the stage of my career to fight for myself – to fight for just why I can be the best. I don’t care who I’m fighting as long as I perform at my abilities. And that is where the belt should be. And I know that probably 18 months from now, I’m definitely going to be back in the UFC and in title contention.”
Kaufman won just one of four during her initial UFC run, with that lone win coming over Leslie Smith at the UFC Ultimate Fighter Nations Finale.
The former champion believes the UFC is looking for new title contenders and she could fill that need.
“I actually feel like I have less of a chip on my shoulder,” Kaufman said. “I think, in the past, I was frustrated. When Ronda had the belt, I’d already fought Ronda (Kaufman lost via armbar in the first round of a 2012 Strikeforce headliner). So I feel like a lot of the opportunities weren’t there, because they were trying to get new people for Ronda. And then when Holly (Holm) won and then Miesha and now Amanda (Nunes) – I think it’s really opened up the landscape of 135. And the UFC needs bantamweights. They need exciting bantamweights. So my goal, Jan. 13, is to remind people that I am the exciting bantamweight that they need. I’m not just a bantamweight; I’m the exciting bantamweight.”
Invicta Fighting Championships 27 takes place on Saturday, January 13 from the Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City, Missouri with Sarah Kaufman and Pannie Kianzad headlining. Fightful is providing live coverage of the event, which streams live on UFC Fight Pass.